Although smaller and less well known than the eastern five lakes, and boasting fewer wineries, the Western Finger Lakes have their own attractions. In particular, the spectacular Letchworth Gorge—the Grand Canyon of the East—features the Genesee River cascading over three majestic waterfalls.
- 1 Avon — home of local burger chain Tom Wahl's
- 2 Canandaigua — one of the oldest cities in the region, with a thriving 19th-century downtown, a large performing arts center, a waterpark, and boating on Canandaigua Lake
- 3 Dansville — known for its annual hot-air balloon festival
- 4 Farmington — live thoroughbred racing at Finger Lakes Race Track
- 5 Geneseo — education and history in the heart of the Genesee Valley
- 6 Hammondsport — home to the Curtiss aviation museum
- 7 Mount Morris — the gateway to Letchworth has undergone a stunning revitalization
- 8 Naples — where you can get grape-flavored everything
- 9 Penn Yan — the center of Finger Lakes farm country
The majority of Livingston, Ontario, and Yates Counties make up the bulk of the western Finger Lakes, which for our purposes extends north to the Monroe County line and the New York State Thruway. In the east, the land between Keuka and Seneca lakes separates west from east. To the south, the part of Steuben County north of I-86 is also included in this region.
The western Finger Lakes are strongly associated with Rochester, which lies north of the four smallest lakes, near Lake Ontario—in fact, Hemlock and Canadice Lakes provide much of Rochester's water supply. Within the region, Canandaigua is the largest population center and the conceptual capital of the area.
Three major Interstate highways serve this part of the Finger Lakes. Interstate 90, the New York State Thruway, is a popular toll road that travels between Albany and Buffalo, passing just north of the Finger Lakes and just south of Rochester. Interstate 390 runs south from Rochester and passes just west of Conesus Lake on its way to I-86 and the Southern Tier. I-86 is the Southern Tier Expressway; it connects the Erie, Pennsylvania area to the New York City area, passing just to the south of Keuka Lake.
A number of well-maintained state routes traverse the rest of the region, mostly in north-south directions due to the direction of the glacial valleys. Take I-86, I-90, or U.S. 20 east-west first, then turn off onto the appropriate north-south route.
There's no scheduled commercial service to the western Finger Lakes; for that, you'll want to fly into Greater Rochester International. If you have your own plane, or have chartered one, your best bets are Canandaigua Airport (just northwest of that city) or Penn Yan Airport (IATA: PEO). There are a number of private airstrips scattered throughout the region as well, but you'll need prior arrangements to land at one of them.
The main regional hospitals are Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville and Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua. Noyes Memorial operates satellite facilities throughout Livingston County. Patients in need of critical trauma care may be sent north to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.